Sunday, November 27, 2011

Elizabeth Abbot burnt to death for being a Witch 1683

Last Sunday I went for a walk in Essex starting in Takeley. A few miles into the walk in the tiny hamlet of Helmans Cross, Great Canfield I came across a "Parish Stocks" and "whipping post". Which was vaguely interesting. 

What was more unusual was that this idyllic rural country crossroad was where Elizabeth Abbot was burnt to death as a witch in 1683. It is pretty shocking to think that just over 300 years ago that we were murdering people by burning them alive for being "witches". The vast majority were of course not a witch but were mentally ill, or had fallen out with their neighbours or were just different.

I've tried to google and get more information about Elizabeth and what happened but apart from this I can find nothing.


vjohn82 said...

There was a book written called The Apprehension, Arraignment and Execution of Elizabeth Abbot.

Last person in Britain executed for heresy was Edward Wightman in 1612 who was burned at the stake in Burton-Upon-Trent.

John Gray said...

Hi Vaughan

I thought you might suggest something. I've had a look at your link but it seems that this Elizabeth Abbot was executed by hanging for murder in Aldgate 1608 not burnt for witchcraft in Essex in 1683?

vjohn82 said...

That teaches me for not looking properly!

John Gray said...

No, it seems that Elizabeth Abbot of 1608 was put to death in similar horrible circumstances.
I have pretty much always been against the death penalty. But sometimes the sheer evil of some monsters makes me think I will happily volunteer to put the trapdoor. But how can I support such a completely discredited process? least until the next stomach turning murder case

vjohn82 said...

I used to be all for the death penalty. But, at that time, I didn't understand the true nature of human fallibility. I'm now more against it than I ever was for it.

And you're right about the horrible circumstance; there has always been a group of people, throughout history, thinking they were doing the rational thing with horrifying consequences.

John Gray said...

agreed Vaughan

bob smith said...

Did you know the last conviction for witchcraft was in 1944 - I think the woman had connection to Forest Gate as I remember writing about it in a school project and read the reports in the archives of the old Stratford library.

John Gray said...

Hi Bob

Correct check out.